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Daily’s FoI request reveals councillor had unpaid council tax bill

A regional daily’s FoI request revealed that a councillor on its patch had been sent a court summons over an unpaid council tax bill.

The Leeds city councillor had been due to appear in court over an unpaid council tax bill of almost £1,000, the council said in a statement to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

It followed a Feedom of Information request made by YEP trainee reporter James Connolly asking: “How many councillors received court summons as a result of failing to pay [council tax] in 2021, 2022 and 2023?”

The unpaid bill for £987.67 due in 2023/24 was eventually paid before the case came to court.


The Leeds City Council offices

A council spokesperson said: “The councillor in question has now settled their council tax for the 2023/24 year in full and, as such, is eligible to attend and vote at the Budget Setting Council meeting in accordance with the legislative requirements.”

However a local government expert at Leeds Trinity University told the YEP the councillor in question should now be named.

Public affairs lecturer Leigh Purves told the YEP: “There is a legitimate public interest in knowing which councillor is responsible for the council tax arrears.

“Obviously, there may be personal circumstances which could have affected this situation. However, councillors are responsible for the expenditure of public money and should be held accountable.

The YEP’s FoI request also revealed that four other councillors received reminders over missed council tax payments for 2023/24 but paid before summonses could be issued.

In both 2022/23 and 2021/22, three councillors were sent reminders to pay missed council tax and all paid after receiving them.

YEP Editor Joseph Keith told HTFP: “This article is a fantastic piece of public interest journalism, demonstrating the importance of regional publishers in holding those in power to account.

“The story was well-thought out, researched and carefully considered prior to publication.

“Freedom of Information requests – and the interpretation of their findings – remain a valuable tool for journalists seeking the truth.

“The YEP is proud to be leading the way with public interest journalism in the region.”